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Ed Lee, San Francisco mayor, dead at 65

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London Breed sworn in as acting mayor per city guidelines

Ed Lee smiles as his daughter, Brianna, right, looks on at his campaign headquarters in 2011.
Photo by AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

Mayor Ed Lee died Tuesday morning after suffering a heart attack. He was 65. Lee was noted for, among other things, being San Francisco’s first Asian American mayor.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “Lee collapsed while shopping at the Safeway grocery store on Monterey Boulevard near his Glen Park home at about 10:30 p.m.” He was later taken to San Francisco General Hospital where he died at 1:11 a.m., surrounded by family.

“It is with profound sadness and terrible grief that we confirm that Mayor Edwin M. Lee passed away on Tuesday, December 12 at 1:11 a.m. at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. Family, friends and colleagues were at his side,” the Mayor’s Office said in a statement.

Lee is survived by his wife, Anita, and his two daughters, Tania and Brianna.

Board of Supervisors President London Breed, sworn in as acting mayor shortly after his passing, said in a news conference outside the hospital Tuesday. “Our thoughts are prayers are with his wife Anita, his daughters Tania and Brianna, and his entire family.”

Lee was known for being an advocate of new housing, as well as one of the tech communities closest allies at City Hall.

He began as a civil rights attorney earlier in his career, representing low-income tenants. (His final public act of service introduced legislation to reimburse costs from landlords who illegally house tenants in unsafe dwellings.) Lee’s Twitter tax break, for better or for worse, transformed San Francisco MidMarket area.

He will be best remembered for how he handled San Francisco’s housing and income disparity.

As NYT reports:

As mayor, Mr. Lee presided over a tremendous shift in wealth in the city driven by the technology boom that put San Francisco at the center of global innovation.

Rents soared past levels only the wealthiest could afford, an ironic development for Mr. Lee, who began his career fighting for affordable housing. When Mr. Lee took office in January 2011, the median home value in San Francisco was $656,500. Today it is about $1.25 million, according to Zillow, a real estate data company. A sharp rise in rents — the city’s median rent is about $4,300 — also pushed large segments of the middle class out of the city. Office rents in parts of San Francisco rose higher than those in Manhattan.

Lee was the city’s 43rd mayor.